Pushing Back Against Misinformation and False Facts About Immigration in Canada
As long as violence and conflict persist throughout the world and populations are subjected to violence and persecution, refugees will look to other countries such as Canada as a safe haven and home. Canada’s history of welcoming and supporting refugees from around the world spans decades.
But the recent influx of refugees making news headlines, coupled with how quickly information and misinformation can spread via social media, has perpetuated several myths about refugees throughout Canada. These myths support bias and prejudice and contribute to ongoing anti-refugee sentiment.
While determining the accuracy of a headline may seem like a straightforward process, refugee lawyers and advocates often have an uphill battle pushing back against misinformation. Here are some of the most common myths about refugee rights and admittance to Canada and the truth behind them.
5 Myths and The Facts Behind Them
Myth: Refugees Get More Financial Aid than Canadian Pensioners | Fact: Refugees Receive Minimal Financial Support
Government-sponsored refugees receive minimal financial support (if any) during their first year in Canada for basic food and shelter costs. In fact, in Ontario, an individual refugee may receive $781 per month, in addition to a one-time allowance payment of $905 and a $564 loan for housing rental and telephone line deposits.
Privately-sponsored refugees do not receive any support from the government when they arrive. It is up to their sponsors to cover their living costs until they can find employment or other sources of assistance.
Financial assistance for any refugee is not more than social assistance for Canadians.
Myth: Asylum Seekers Jump the Queue | Fact: Refugee Claims Do NOT Affect Other Immigration Applications
Under international law, refugees fleeing violence and persecution have a right to seek asylum in another country. And this application process is handled within a different stream of Canada’s immigration system. As such, refugee claims do not interfere with other types of immigration applications.
Myth: Criminals Pose as Refugees to Enter Canada | Fact: Entering Canada as a Refugee is Difficult Due to Intense Security Scrutiny
Refugees undergo strict background checks and security screenings before their claims are processed. If any claimant poses a security risk, has a serious criminal background, has participated in organized crime, or has committed a human rights violation, they can be detained and not admitted to Canada.
The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) checks all refugee claimants once they arrive in Canada. In fact, entering Canada as a refugee is far more difficult than as a visitor due to the number of security checks and lengthy and detailed interview process. The number of claimants who pose any sort of threat or security concern is statistically insignificant.
Myth: Refugees and Immigrants Contribute to Higher Crime Rates | Fact: Immigrants and Refugees Commit Fewer Crimes than Native-Born Canadians
Immigrants and refugees commit fewer crimes than other Canadians and are underrepresented in Canadian prisons. Just like any other population, there will always be a few who engage in criminal activity, but most people are law-abiding.
Furthermore, compared to other nations, Canada still has a remarkably small number of refugees per capita, according to a 2015 study. This United Nations High Commission for Refugees study found that Canada was home to around 4 refugees per 1,000 people.
Myth: Refugees Are a Burden on the Canadian Economy | Fact: Refugees and Immigration Actually Help the Economy
With Canada’s low birth rate and aging population, immigrants and refugees help keep the economy stable by contributing to the declining workforce and economy. In fact, refugees who become entrepreneurs actually help create job opportunities in Canada.
What’s more, refugees do not take jobs from Canadian citizens. Refugees and immigrants contribute to the size of Canada’s working population and tax base in a big way, and the children of immigrants and refugees tend to outperform those of “natural-born” Canadians, academically and professionally.
Why It’s So Important to Dispel These Myths
These myths are harmful to Canadian society. Compared to some other countries, Canada is fairly tolerant and values diversity. But if more people believe the myths they read online, then more people could develop an unfounded bias toward refugees in Canada.